Italy in Iran after “Iran Deal”
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – In an article for the Tasnim News Agency, Italian cultural anthropologist and journalist Tiziana Ciavardini has discussed the role Italy can and will play in Iran’s economy once anti-Tehran sanctions are removed following the implementation of Iran nuclear deal.
The full text of the article is as follows:
Italy in Iran after “Iran Deal”
“Italy is willing to resume trade and economic relations with Iran over the coming weeks”, this is the declaration of Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni two days after the nuclear deal.
The relations between Iran and Italy have always been very close. Despite all of these years of embargo we ‘Italians’ have constantly been present. Through culture, or infrastructure, we were in Iran even in years before the new administration of Hassan Rouhani. Some major companies such as Eni, Ansaldo Energia and Seli have never closed their offices in Tehran.
As ‘Italians’, we were not part of 5+1 but we really feel honored because of the presence of Italian High Representative of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini. She has already expressed her desire to come to Iran in the near future.
Today with the success of the agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue and the approval from the United Nations Security Council to lift the sanctions against Iran, a new interesting challenge is ready for Italy. Since the government of Enrico Letta, the mutual exchange of diplomats has started to move from Italy to Iran and vice versa. The previous Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino was the one who opened the way to more economic and cultural interest in Iran in her historic visit to Iran just few months after Rouhani’s election.
Nowadays with the Government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi the political line seems to be even straighter. The Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni has stressed on the pioneering role that Italy has had from the beginning of the new Iranian administration, emphasizing that our contractors would warmly welcome removal of sanctions. The Iranian president confirmed that there are special relations between two countries, and Italy certainly will be the first economic partner of Iran. The intuition of the Italian government to anticipate business delegations to Iran paving the way for subsequent investments, are already paying off unexpected.
In order to finalize some contracts, the Minister of Development Federica Guidi and Foreign Affairs Minister Paolo Gentiloni, will come to Tehran and their arrival is fixed on the calendar for 4 and 5 August. This will be the first Italian mission after the nuclear deal. The mission will bring a small squad of representatives of the institutions and businesses to Tehran, to meet counterparts of the two Ministries and understand how further to act when the sanctions are tangibly removed. According to the Italian News Agency ANSA, ‘the team probably will include representatives of SACE and ICE, as well as top managers of the companies’.
During the harder sanctions period, more than 50% of the shipments from Italy were composed of mechanical engineering, but now opportunities may be opened also in components of automobile, materials of construction and agricultural vehicles and commercial issues.
Immediately after the agreement, there have been statements by the Minister of Development Federica Guidi who said that Italy's objective is to return "to the levels of the past” in Iran. The agreement with Iran is, for Italy, the possibility of reappearance with all the potential of its business system in a market which now has nearly 80 million potential consumers. SACE, the Italian agency for the credit and exports, has estimated at 3 billion of euro of exports in 2018 compared with a billion registered in 2014.
Another interesting point for business is the TAP project (Trans Adriatic Pipeline). Iran will be willing to pave the way for its investment in the project just after two months when international sanctions will be definitely removed. The 870 kilometer (545 mile) pipeline will connect to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) near the Turkish-Greek border at Kipoi, and cross Greece, Albania, and the Adriatic, before reaching southern Italy. With TAP, Italy could become a hub leading European energy supply.
We really don’t know what the future will bring to Iran. For sure we know that Europe has all its interest to conclude in a positive way the Iranian agreement, since many European companies have already invested in Iran. Anyhow, being ‘cautious’ is the best word right now. Often the excessive enthusiasm runs faster than reality. Iran now is ready to accept not only Italian investment but other competitive companies from other European countries, China, India, Russia and Brazil already on the way. Iran could be the next super economic power in the region and dealing with it is very necessary and no one wants to give it up.
At the end there is a fact that could not be missed; Iran Deal has nothing to do with the internal policies of the country. Growth of economy is an imperative step and was one of the first promises of Rouhani but for the one who thinks Iran is the new ‘El Dorado’ for business to make money, it is important to advice not to confuse improving market in the country and ignoring Islamic principles of the country. To let many foreign companies to do business in Iran should be assumed just as economy opportunities, and not otherwise.
Tiziana Ciavardini is an Italian cultural anthropologist and journalist who was graduated from University La Sapienza of Rome in Italy. She is the President of Ancis Anthropology Forum, a cultural association for the Dialogue between Religion and Culture.